You can thank the Vice President's Energy Task Force when you are pumping money into your car this spring.  Even without a war in Iraq, the Energy Department predicts that [gasoline prices in the US will rise at least a dime a gallon this spring](http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/01/10/BU112734.

DTL).  See, the Veep's energy plan doesn't reduce the US' reliance on fossil fuels.  Since we don't power our cars with coal (or the fabled, clean coal), we are dependent upon foreign nations and the oil they produce to get our SUV's to Burger King and back.  So, when a bunch of college students and disgruntled, underpaid, exploited workers in Venezuela decide to strike, people in Dubuque, Spokane, and Bangor pay the price.  Now, if the government's energy plan was to actually reduce fossil fuel use, say through conservation, (a terrible "personal virtue") and efficiency initiatives, the US would actually be less vulnerable to the whims of rioters in foreign nations.  However, the government's policy of more and bigger SUVs and the gas to power them places your wallet at the mercy of strangers in a strange land. On a related note, VP Cheney is no longer planning to disturb the general karmic balance of Madison by blanketing the city to the black cloud of his presence and security entourage any time soon.  The VP was planning on coming until someone announced that he was planning a visit.  At that point, the veil of secrecy was lifted, protests were planned, and the Veep suddenly found his calendar very full with engagements elsewhere.  It seems that our almost duly-elected Veep doesn't like the idea of the American people protesting his policies and decisions.  Go back to your "undisclosed location" Cheney.  You weren't wanted here by the vast majority of Madisonians in the first place. Dakota Style Cheesy Cheese Puffs:  Strangely addictive given their unabashed artificial nature.  Fortunately, these little Satan snacks are not sold within several hundred miles of our house.